Subscribe: RealClearPolitics - Articles - John Mueller
http://realclearpolitics.com/articles/rss_john_mueller.xml
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade C rated
Language: English
Tags:
attack  attacks  explanation  government  people  protective measures  qaeda  security  states  terrorist  terrorists  united states  united 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - John Mueller

RealClearPolitics - Articles - John Mueller





Last Build Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 00:02:18 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007
 



Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?

Mon, 11 Sep 2006 00:02:18 -0600

But if it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it? Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could so easily be exploited? One reasonable explanation is that almost no terrorists exist in the United States and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad. But this explanation is rarely offered. HUFFING AND PUFFING Instead, Americans are told -- often by the same people who had once predicted imminent attacks -- that the absence of international terrorist strikes in the United States is owed to the protective measures so hastily and expensively put in place after 9/11. But there is a problem with this argument. True, there have been no terrorist incidents in the United States in the last five years. But nor were there any in the five years before the 9/11 attacks, at a time when the United States was doing much less to protect itself. It would take only one or two guys with a gun or an explosive to terrorize vast numbers of people, as the sniper attacks around Washington, D.C., demonstrated in 2002. Accordingly, the government's protective measures would have to be nearly perfect to thwart all such plans. Given the monumental imperfection of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, and the debacle of FBI and National Security Agency programs to upgrade their computers to better coordinate intelligence information, that explanation seems far-fetched. Moreover, Israel still experiences terrorism even with a far more extensive security apparatus. It may well have become more difficult for terrorists to get into the country, but, as thousands demonstrate each day, it is far from impossible. Immigration procedures have been substantially tightened (at considerable cost), and suspicious U.S. border guards have turned away a few likely bad apples. But visitors and immigrants continue to flood the country. There are over 300 million legal entries by foreigners each year, and illegal crossings number between 1,000 and 4,000 a day -- to say nothing of the generous quantities of forbidden substances that the government has been unable to intercept or even detect despite decades of a strenuous and well-funded "war on drugs." Every year, a number of people from Muslim countries -- perhaps hundreds -- are apprehended among the illegal flow from Mexico, and many more probably make it through. Terrorism does not require a large force. And the 9/11 planners, assuming Middle Eastern males would have problems entering the United States legally after the attack, put into motion plans to rely thereafter on non-Arabs with passports from Europe and Southeast Asia. If al Qaeda operatives are as determined and inventive as assumed, they should be here by now. If they are not yet here, they must not be trying very hard or must be far less dedicated, diabolical, and competent than the common image would suggest. Another popular explanation for the fact that there have been no more attacks asserts that the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, although it never managed to snag bin Laden, severely disrupted al Qaeda and its operations. But this claim is similarly unconvincing. The 2004 train bombings in Madrid were carried out by a tiny group of men who had never been to Afghanistan, much less to any of al Qaeda's training camps. They pulled off a coordinated nonsuicidal attack with 13 remote-controlled bombs, ten of which went off on schedule, killing 191 and injuring more than 1,800. The experience with that attack, as well as with the London bombings of 2005, suggests that, as the former U.S. counterterrorism officials Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon have noted, for a terrorist attack to succeed, "all that is necessary are the most portable, least detectable tools of the terrorist trade: ideas." It is also s[...]